A high-pitched laugh echoes in an empty church. Servants discover their master dead in his bed, the only sign of disturbance an open window. The coffin of a woman hanged as a witch is found to be empty. A bed that hasn't been slept in is crumpled and distressed come the morning. A skeletal figure creeps closer and closer to the house where an unsuspecting family lie sleeping. In these chilling tales of the supernatural, M. R. James proves he truly is the master of the ghost story.
Selected from the book Ghost Stories by M.R. James
VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.
A series of short books by the world's greatest writers on the experiences that make us human
Also in the Vintage Minis series:
Drinking by John Cheever
Summer by Laurie Lee
Friendship by Rose Tremain
Love by Jeanette Winterson
Montague Rhodes James was born on 1 August 1862 near Bury St Edmunds, though he spent long periods of his later life in Suffolk, which provided the setting for many of his ghost stories. He studied at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge, where he was eventually elected Fellow, and then made Provost in 1905. In 1918 he became Provost of Eton. He was a renowed medievalist and biblical scholar, and published works on palaeography, antiquarianism, bibliography and history, guides to Suffolk and Norfolk, as well as editing a collection of ghost stories by Sheridan Le Fanu. However, he remains best known for his own ghost stories, which were published in several collections including
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904),
A Thin Ghost and Other Stories (1919),
A Warning to the Curious (1925) and a collected edition in 1931. M. R. James never married and died on 12 June 1936.